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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - not QRP <5W | FlexRadio FLEX-6500 Help

Reviews Summary for FlexRadio FLEX-6500
FlexRadio FLEX-6500 Reviews: 43 Average rating: 4.7/5 MSRP: $4299.00
Description: Software Define Radio Transceiver with 4 independent full performance receivers from 0.03MHz to 77MHz
Product is not in production.
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N4TT Rating: 4/5 Apr 30, 2019 19:37 Send this review to a friend
Research  Time owned: more than 12 months
Radio: 5/5
SSDR: 2/5
Company: 3/5
Community: 1/5

The description says four fully independent receivers. That's one way to look at. Other way is that it is one very wide band receiver with four sliding windows. But that's a nit. If something like this supports your workflow then it's the cat's meow.

Spend some time on the Flex Community website and do some research. See what others are saying and make your decision on what is important to you.

If state of the art receiver specs are the key then the 6x00 is the radio I think. But if you are looking for that refined, silky smooth experience that comes from a radio with a long heritage, you're just a little close to the cutting edge for that.

What are you looking for in a radio? Comfort food (Icom/Kenwood/Yaesu/Elecraft) or Red Bull (Flex). If you don't mind getting tripped up to get some amazing features... Flex.

Check into the software updates and the licensing structure and see if you can deal with it. Some love it, some hate it (I'm a hater) but best you go in there with eyes wide open. My perspective, core functions and bugs are not fixed before new major releases are made available at $200 each with the option that you can take it or leave it. Ya, tell a ham he doesn't have to upgrade and see how well that works for ya. I have to believe this will change eventually. The latest upgrade involved an API overhaul which rendered add-on software partially unsupported. There are subtleties you should understand and accept before you buy.

I also own the 6700 (basically 2 receivers with 8 sliding windows - freaking wild) and a Maestro, kind of a reduced-capability laptop PC with some knobs on it. The 6500, though no longer made, is the anchor radio that all others can use for comparison.

The community is a rats nest of cheering blobs of icky fanboism and criticism that is usually crushed without mercy. I suggest you read the community posts - but consider carefully whether you want to join the community. There are options that are more open to discussion I think.

Company? Detached. There's a few people that seem to be hung out there to listen to the unwashed masses and you can often get someone on the telephone but, unlike Elecraft's list, you won't get much meaningful insider participation. The owner gets on sometimes to give his reasons for the way things are. Still, there's no discussion of features with insiders. Alpha testers have to pay for the privilege of testing, and then the whole community are the beta testers also paying for the new feature (v2 remote access, v3 multilink). Only the worse of bugs are ever addressed and complaints still exist from the earliest versions.

My final words and I'll drop it. The radio is in two parts. There's the hardware that does all the processing on board and the client (SSDR) that is basically responsible for the presentation. The radio... state of the art gold. The software? Maybe there's impressive stuff going on under the hood but it is glitchy and tired (kind of like me). I think someone is going to come along with an amazing client to put on top of this radio some day. So far, it's been a miss.
GM0ELP Rating: 4/5 Nov 3, 2018 15:46 Send this review to a friend
Happy  Time owned: more than 12 months
Ex Elecraft K3 Owner. Contester (non-serious). CW mode 90%.

1) It takes several months to fine tune your network and station to get satisfactory contest results.
2) I would not recommend this transceiver to non-competent network/computer users.
3) I would not recommend this transceiver for serious contesting due to whole package reliabilty/complexity (high RF and high dependency IT networks rarely play nicely together).
4) I would not recommend this radio for field use as ruggedness isn't great (heatsinks not securely fastened, fans are noisy and failure prone etc).
5) Latency is an issue when brick wall filtering is required.
6) DSP Features for handling noise etc are poor compared to most other radios.
7) Flexradio SSDR software is constantly evolving, but after many years is still full of bugs that seem to take years to fix.
8) Flexradio decides the bug fix priority not the users.
9) Poor implementation of PTT in CW mode.

1) SSDR Panafall is the best there is.
2) Receiver is sensitive (AGC-T rocks!).
3) Filters are adjustable from low latency wide to high latency brick wall.
4) Compatibility with external data mode applications is great and performance is better than conventional radios due to complete digital audio path.
5) Low station cabling necessary as all comms are through one ethernet cable.
6) Easy remote station operation without extra equipment.
7) Compatibility with most contest loggers.
8) Availability of SSDR for IOS or Windows.
9) SSDR emulation of K1EL keyer.
10) Good full break-in implementation (quiet change-over).
11) Full SDR direct sampling technology for resultant audio output and not hybrid 9MHz IF mixer inferior technology from the other big three (current latest and announced transceivers).

The above score is based on the 6500 not being Great!(5), but certainly being Good!(4). I do not want to use any of my other transceivers in the shack and I also do not covet any other transceiver on the market today. Well done Flexradio!
WK2Y Rating: 5/5 Apr 14, 2017 08:01 Send this review to a friend
Just a wonderful radio  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I have had my Flex 6500 for just about a year now, and it would be understatement, by a wide margin, to say I have been thrilled with it. Before I get into details about why, let me provide a little background and make a suggestion to anyone who is on the fence about getting an SDR. I was first licensed in 1971 and have had a variety of knob radios over the years. When I got close to retirement, I promised myself a top of the line radio for my retirement gift to myself. I mulled over all the arguments about knob based versus SD radios for quite a long time. What finally convinced me to go with an SDR was my purchase of an inexpensive SDR receiver\dongle. I hadnít purchased it to help me in the decision process, but it took no time at all for me to see the advantages of being able to see the signals and adjust filters precisely to the desired signal. And, I also learned how easy it is to get used to using a software interface. In very short order, I was finding and tuning in signals much more quickly than I ever had been using a knob based radio. If you are having trouble deciding, then consider purposefully taking my inadvertent approach. I am certain you will be convinced in short order like I was.

Setup for the rig was painless. Unpack, connect the power, antenna, and Ethernet cable to the PC, download and install the software, and away you go. Not a hitch. The SmartSDR software was very intuitive. Once I was setup, then I really started to learn the advantages of the rig. I typically have, simultaneously, one receiver slice open to monitor PSK using Ham Radio Deluxe, another for JT65, and a third for SSB or CW. I could open a fourth slice but 3 seems to be enough for this addled retired brain. (Indeed, I made the mistake early on of not checking to see what slice was transmitting and blasted a PSK frequency with my SSB CQ.) Having the large support community available (a large motivating factor in my purchase of the Flex versus other SDR) made interfacing all the different software packages relatively easy. The filtering and signal processing are darned amazing. If you have an interfering signal, you just slide or adjust the receive window until itís out of the pass band. No guessing and it is gone. That alone would be worth the price, but the number of features built into the software, keyer, audio equalizer, digital signal processing, profiles, notch filters (truly amazing), etc, etc. only enhance the value.

Both the rigís firmware and the software are updated on a regular basis. The fear always is that something will stop working after the update. In the year that I have owned the machine, there have been several updates and none have caused a problem.

One final note: I am not a contest operator. I can see huge advantages of the Flex if I were. None the less, I donít consider the 6500 to be overkill for me. Even as a casual operator, I am able to take advantage of the features it offers, and it makes it a pleasure to operate. No buyerís remorse or guilt here whatsoever.

I am happy to answer specific questions should you have them.

WU5E Rating: 5/5 Feb 15, 2017 16:37 Send this review to a friend
best buy-ever  Time owned: more than 12 months
3+ years own, the best radio I have ever own. I have own some good radios before ICOM 775DSP 756PRO2,3 TenTec Orion and Orion II but the FLEX 6500 is better than all them put together. the flexibility of this radio is Awesome!
AH6FC Rating: 5/5 Feb 9, 2017 17:04 Send this review to a friend
update  Time owned: more than 12 months
Still an amazing radio.

My prior review echoed the same, but voiced my computer-brain dysfunction. That still exists.

Over the past week, I had difficulty connecting with my 6500...all computer issues..or more accurately, operator issues.

Dudley patiently helped me through these issues. Though it took a couple days, all is well.

The point is, the service is fabulous. Never had a problem with the radio. The features, particularly the filtering, multiband displays and all the bells and whistles are absolutely amazing. Though the computer side can be frustrating, it is well worth it. Just an amazing radio.

Without hesitation, go for it. Flexradios are the best.

73, Bill
DH2ID Rating: 5/5 Feb 9, 2017 07:15 Send this review to a friend
Great Radio, especially for digital modes  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have delayed writing this review until I had enough experience with the new radio. I have been using SDR TRX (Flex-3000/Elecraft KX3) and RX (RFSpace SDR-IQ/Elad FDM-S2)for some years now and then upgraded to the Flex-6500, keeping the 3000 for fieldday and EMMCOM use, as it is conveniently sized.

The very first thing I noticed with the new Flex6k5 is the ethernet connection and the fast and easy setup with SmartSDR. I run the radio with a gigabit switch, which in turn is connected to my router, which sets up a fixed IP for the radio.

Compared with the Flex3k, which uses firewire and the PC to crunch it's data the new Flex6k5 runs easily even on older notebooks, as all the data is processed inside the TRX. I use a SONY VAIO i7 notebook with Windows7 64bit HE as OS.

The next great thing about the Flex6k5 is the excellent support by FlexRadio (ok, I'm used to get great support by US companies :-)) and the great forum. You can ask anything and you'll get a fast answer!

The API is also a great plus, as there are some great programs like FRStack around, which make working much comfortabler.

SmartSDR is in constant development, which makes me proud to be part of a community, which is in the middle of the development process. FDV, D-Star and a dedicated RTTY mode are only part of all the new things we got. Remoting works great over the home network and remoting over WAN is ahead.

I have only very limited antennas on my balcony here, therefore I work mostly JT65/JT9/PSK31 and CW. PACTOR also works with a cable I made and my PACTOR TNC. Although these modes are quite a challenge for the hardware (the JT modes are sending continually for 46 seconds) I have no problems with overheating or HF wandering into my other electronic equipment.

I cant't say anything here about PA's or bigger antennas, as I can't use them. I do a lot of low power work, using maximum output of 10 watts and having reached the whole world with low power and very limited antennas!
Alex - DH2ID
ON8VP Rating: 5/5 Dec 2, 2016 09:26 Send this review to a friend
My doubts are vanished!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I do not often throw flowers but and i have to say that the learning curve seems to go faster than with the "knobs vessels".Did you ever see what you say or see what you hear? After years of traditional transceivers i hesitated to try SDR as i am not confident with software and pc stuff.
The Dutch distributor Ger convinced me to consider a demo after he installed the latest Smart SDR software and additional third party software om my pc . In my opinion a great commercial move that should be able to gain other hams .
I never thought i would buy a Flexradio 6500 but now i am happy i did.
Just to tell that you don't have to be afraid to consider a Flex! Check the possibilities on the Flexradio websites and compare and check what you get, you will be surprised !
NA5U Rating: 5/5 Jul 11, 2016 13:21 Send this review to a friend
Best radio I have operated owned!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
The 6500 has allowed me to experience excitement and fasination I had for radio when I was 6-years old!!!
W4IEE Rating: 5/5 May 19, 2016 06:01 Send this review to a friend
Look Ma, no knobs  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I took the leap to reward myself for passing the Extra after 50 years. Sold my TenTec Orion (great radio) and not looking back.
To anyone who has not seen the interface or used a panadapter before, this radio is a total paradigm shift in operating.
I am impressed with the sensitivity and selectivity and simply (?) the ease of use with the visualization of the signals on the bands and the point-and-click method of tuning.
Did I mention - no knobs - not quite true, I do use my mouse wheel for fine tuning.
I've had the radio for 3 months and integrated it with DXLabs Suite and FLDIGI. I know I'm not using it absolutely correctly yet but I'm having a ball using it on all modes including Digital (JT65/9 next step).
Assuming that Flex stays in business and I'm sure they will, software/firmware upgrades should provide a continuous stream of goodies.
There is a lot to absorb with these radios but to get it up and running takes a lot less that I originally expected.
Although I operate all modes I am mostly into CW and the 6500 is a dream. CW Skimmer is also on the horizon.
Don't think twice about having to use a computer with it. Heck, if you don't have a computer in the shack for logging and the digital modes you are behind the curve anyway. Think of the Flex as just another application to make hamming more enjoyable.
Great radio...great experience.
AA0KM Rating: 5/5 Apr 17, 2016 23:02 Send this review to a friend
Computers And SDR  Time owned: more than 12 months
I am not going to go in details how Great the Flexradio is I am just telling some of the things that can be done.

The many ways I communicate using a computer.

Lets See>

To the kids sometime`s the computer.
To the businesses sometimes with the computer.
To Paybill`s sometimes with the computer.
Watch video or read the news with the computer.
Chat with friends with the computer.

And many more uses for the computer communications.

Why not use the computer with radio and all the above mentioned stuff?

Plus all that the digital software may bring in the future. Just add another program or App.

(you do not need internet to make the radio work) Still hearing this occasionally but for online software updates yes.

----------------------------------------Things that can be done------------------------

Radio ON: And have Voip application`s running for other comms and have Spotters network up and running and the weather app going.
Webpages for mapping locations or lookups for logbooks.

Radio ON: Watch the digital modes while talking on the radio on other modes and / or different bands.

Radio ON: Operations controlled with software such as Rotor antenna control,Amplifiers,Meters,Tuner`s, Antenna Switches.

Radio ON: Remote control of some connected radio equipment with various software.

All in one place, one monitor, one computer, one radio multiple RX`s.

And the Best Communications to or from a company and all the help you need is right in the Flexradio Forums!
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